“It’s so important that we stand up and show up for children, because that’s what the Lord does for us,” Child Advocate, Speaker, Trainer and Consultant Mary Ann Bradberry told attendees of the 2022 Childhood and Family Ministry Summit.
The Childhood and Family Ministry Summit is an annual event centered around equipping all preschool and children’s teachers and leaders, from Bible study teachers to weekday ministry directors. It is facilitated by the Texas Baptists Center for Church Health and the Childhood Discipleship Ministry. This year, participants gathered at Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University and heard from experts in children’s ministry and education on various subjects during general sessions, as well as attending keynote sessions led by Bradberry.
During her first keynote session, Bradberry emphasized the importance of play in a child’s development. She explained that unstructured play is a process, an unstructured time for children to explore, grow and imagine. Without that time, Bradberry said, children see increased rates of depression, shorter attention spans and physical and mental developmental issues. Not only does play time result in a healthier child, but it is also how children grow into the adults God meant them to be, Bradberry explained.
“Play is how God created our precious children to learn. We want to be in charge and in control, but in free play, kids have that control,” she said. “But they need that to become the authentic person that God created them to be.”
As a part of the Center for Church Health’s commitment to helping pastors, ministers and lay leaders grow in their ministries, the Summit is an opportunity for ministers to receive continuing education hours. Texas Baptists also offers a Childhood Ministry Certification, a program that seeks to equip the ministry leader to meet the needs of preschoolers, children, teachers and parents through events, training events and outreach opportunities. This certification can be applied toward Truett Seminary's advanced certification program as well as dual credit from Dallas Baptist University. For more information, look here.
During the third session, Joanna Jespersen, an adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University, provided attendees with practical and spiritual advice for building up the kids' ministry team. She acknowledged that finding volunteers can often be one of the most tiring parts of running the ministry. She encouraged leaders to recruit as Jesus did; face-to-face, with a vision and creatively. Jespersen also emphasized the value of investing in the lives of volunteers and valuing them as individuals, not “bodies to fill a role.”
“You have to put people first. People will not forget you pouring into them,” Jespersen said. “God will take care of who will help you. Your job is to build those people up.”
In a later session, Delanee Williams, content editor at Lifeway Christian Resources, taught a workshop entitled “Does Your Teaching Connect?” Williams explained the eight learning styles: logical, musical, natural, physical, reflective, relational, verbal and visual. She emphasized that children who learn in their preferred method retain information best and are more engaged and encouraged leaders to incorporate as many styles as possible into their Sunday School and Bible lessons.
“If this is the most important thing they’ll ever learn, shouldn’t they learn it in the way they learn best?” she challenged the audience.
A digital pass is available for those unable to attend the conference. This pass will include the Summit’s ten sessions as well as additional sessions recorded by other childhood and family ministry experts.
For more information about the Childhood and Family Ministry Summit and the Childhood Discipleship Ministry, go to txb.org/childhood.
Texas Baptists is a movement of God’s people to share Christ and show love by strengthening churches and ministers, engaging culture and connecting the nations to Jesus.
The ministry of the convention is made possible by giving through the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, Mary Hill Davis Offering® for Texas Missions, Texas Baptists Worldwide and Texas Baptist Missions Foundation. Thank you for your faithful and generous support.
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